The city is starting its fiscal year with a significant deficit.
Though finance officials said Monday they can't yet determine how deep a hole the city is already in, they are sure the budget ended the fiscal year in June in the red.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said the city received less money than expected from building permit fees and conveyance taxes. It also faces a hefty tab for legal bills it hadn't planned for, he said.
“It's definitely an area of concern,” Mayor Art Ward said.
Though the shortfall is likely less than $1 million out of a $170 million spending plan, the city was already bracing for a difficult budget year The deficit just makes the job harder.
Putting the biggest crimp in the bottom line is a $375,000 bill from attorneys representing the cityin litigation involving its former landfill, which is leaking polluted water into the groundwater of neighboring parcels.
“That hart us. It really did,” Klocko said.
Ward said the city asked the law firm to review its billing to see if the figures could be lowered.
He said, though, that the legal bills “are just mounting and mounting and mounting.”
Klocko said the city anticipated lower revenues from building permits and conveyance taxes paid when real estate is sold, but didn't figure the hit would be as hard as it turned out.
The numbers wound up “far lower than expected., Klocko said.
The city won't have even a preliminary deficit figure until mid-November, Klocko said, when the draft financial report is ready. A final report is typically done in late December.
In the meantime, officials said, they're going to try even harder to squeeze city spending to try to close the gap.
“We need to monitor everything to a greate degree,” the mayor said, and search for ways to pare costs.
Klocko said the city's been doing all it can to contain expenses without slicing the services it offers. There's not much more it can do, he said, unless officials agree to reduce services or find some way to streamline government.
Klocko said the city did everything it could to minimize the impact of the economic downturn, but its options are limited.
“If a president can't do it, certainly it can't be done at a local level,” Klocko said.
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